Question:

I am a twenty year old girl who recently back-slid heavily from our Father's ways. I thought that I was really sorry that last time I committed the sin of fortification and drunkenness and would stay away from it; however, it is proven not to be that way, and recently I committed those sins, several times, and I truly feel guilty about it. I was reading an article online about King David and his repentance for his sin with Bathsheba. He was fasting and repenting to show God how sorry he truly was. Then, his son died, and he immediately stopped his repentance. So, my question is it appropriate to fast, ask for forgiveness, and tell our all forgiving Father how sorry we are. Is that adequate for my sins? Does fasting truly show God that I want to change? With the fasting I feel that I am able to purify my soul for the blackness I have put on it. Does God know that?

Answer:

"These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:23).

People have the notion that if they suffer enough, then that suffering will compensate for the sins that they have committed. You can see hints of this in the idolatrous practice of people in the Old Testament. People had this notion that the greater you suffered, the more likely a god would listen to your pleads, so offerings to the god Moloch would involve burning a baby alive -- what greater suffering could there be? But the true God this whole notion absolutely disgusting.

"With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" (Micah 6:6-7).

You don't purchase salvation. What God wants from you is for you to change. "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8).

"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says the Lord GOD. "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord GOD. "Therefore turn and live!"" (Ezekiel 18:30-32).

In the Old Testament, God got onto the people of Israel because they fasted, but didn't change their ways.

"Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God. 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?' "In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers. Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high. Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness" (Isaiah 58:1-9).

Israel had it all wrong. They fasted as if it was the fast itself that had some significance. It was the other way around, the day of fasting should occur because a person is too busy doing righteousness that there was no time to eat.

When David was confronted with his sin with Bathsheba, he did fast. But you have the reason completely wrong. He wasn't fasting in penance for his sins. He was busy pleading with God to perhaps change His mind regarding the life of his son. David was too busy to take time for minor things like eating when a life was at stake.

"Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them. Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, "Indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He may do some harm!" When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" And they said, "He is dead." So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, "What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food." And he said, "While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?' But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me"" (II Samuel 12:15-23).

The fast wasn't David's repentance. David had already repented of his sins. He fasted because he was focused on pleading for the life of his child and won't be distracted from the task to do anything else.

In regards to your question, the answer depends on what you have done so far in obedience to God's will. A lot of people think that they are Christians, but sadly the various denominations do not always teach the whole of what God requires of each person. Not that it is hard, but only doing part of God's will won't bring you life. Take a look at "The Things that Accompany Salvation" and look up all the verses. See for yourself what the Lord requires of you to wash away your sins. If any part of it is missing from your life, do it immediately.

But even after one becomes a true Christian, there are going to be times when we mess up and sin. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8). Being a Christian doesn't mean we never sin. John later explains the difference between a child of God and a child of Satan.

"Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother" (I John 3:6-10).

This passage doesn't come out as clear in English as it does in Greek. In English it almost sound as if John is contradicting what he just said in chapter 1. But Greek has a mode of speech for continuing action, something we aren't able to express well in English. What John is saying is that we can distinguish between a child of God and a child of Satan by the way they behave. A child of Satan stays in sin for the most part. It isn't that a wicked person never does righteousness. Even the most horrible person does some good things once in a while, but the wicked person doesn't stay in righteousness. He doesn't do anything about his sins. In contrast a righteous person will once in a while sin, but unlike the sinner, he doesn't stay in sin. He does something about his sins. Thus you can distinguish the righteous and the wicked by how they act most of the time and not by their occasional excursions into the opposite realm.

What do you do when you sin? "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). You tell God in prayer that you goofed, you ask for His forgiveness, then you pick yourself up and try again -- only harder. If you think a sin will never tempt you again, you are sadly mistaken. That is just what Satan wants people to think because a person doesn't think they have a problem with a certain sin won't be on guard against it. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12).

To many people this seems too simple, too easy. Like Naaman the Leper, they are expecting greater requirements. So like Naaman, they don't do these simple things. It wasn't until Naaman humbled himself that he was cleansed. Trust God! Believe Him when He says He will forgive. Quit trying to second guess the Almighty!